Sunday, 15 April 2007

The Jubilee Hedge ( Nov 2002 - Mar 2003)

(Project 8 on Projects Map)

Spiral guards being wrapped around plants and their support canes.

The winter of 2002/2003 saw a big change in the way Trees for Thanet planted! Tubex tree shelters with stakes were abandoned due to excessive cost and the amount of labour required to put them in and take them off only 2 years later. The other change was the decision to start planting as early in the 'planting season' as possible. It had been noticed that the earlier planted trees established better and that late plantings up to the end of March were more water stressed due to traditional low rainfall levels in Thanet in late February and March. Spiral guards with supporting canes were a cheaper option and enabled one person to plant by themself as opposed to having to plant with a partner.

As the summer saw the celebration of Her Majesty The Queen's Golden Jubilee, the hedgerow project was titled The Jubilee Hedge. Quex Park were the sponsors and the plan was to establish a double row hedge in Woodchurch Road from where the lane from Garlinge meets the tree-line around the stables at Woodchurch Farm to the bottom of the hill towards Reclamet. The new hedge would match the hedge Trees for Thanet had planted on the west side of the lane in 2000.

The picture above shows the digging team digging holes for the front row down the slope from Woodchurch Farm towards the sharp right hand Hackthorn Farm bend. The 'Environmental Project 2000' (Phase 2) hedge planted in 2000 can be seen on the west side of the lane after 3 summer's growth and with tubex removed.
Trees for Thanet were delighted to have the help of 9 students from Ellington Girls School who were carrying out Community Service for their ASDAN Award and in two afternoons in January 2003 they planted 250 whips opposite the tree-line at the stables at Woodchurch Farm. The picture above shows the spiral guards and support canes very clearly.

The picture above shows Trees for Thanet planters on a Saturday morning planting as individuals. It proved easy to support, with one hand, the whip,cane and spiral guard in the centre of the dug hole and use the other to scrape the soil, left by diggers immediately in front of the hole, into the hole and carefully place it around the roots. A gentle shake of the plant allowed soil to settle into any air pockets around the roots and the soil was firmed down around the stem using knuckles! A team in support had first to wrap spirals around the plants and supporting canes, allowing young shooting branches to protrude from the spiral guard and then get them to fast moving planters!

The Group found that more plants could be planted this way on Saturday mornings and as they became more adept, the planting rate went up dramatically with a total of 400 trees being planted in just one well attended session. On two Saturdays in January 2003, the Group diverted to another planting project ( Two Chimneys verge in Park Road) which is covered in a separate report.

By Saturday 8th March 2003, a total of 1925 hawthorns had been planted into the Jubilee Hedge and Roger Gale MP made his second visit to the Group to plant the last of 5 wild cherries put into the hedge. The Isle of Thanet Gazette recorded the event in the normal way!

This particular hedge has caused the Group major problems. Firstly, the summer of 2003 was hot and drought conditions were experienced. The casualty rate was about 3% - 5% and was low because of good planting and tedious sweaty work of hand weeding for its first two summers. A hedge planted by a contractor for Quex Park on the Manston Road at the same time as the Jubilee Hedge suffered 60% - 70% casualties in 2003 and has subsequently been replanted by, yes, Trees for Thanet!

In addition, a thief came and dug up two of the wild cherries, including the one Roger Gale is seen planting in the picture above!

However, the worst problem in this hedge has been the growth of 'Alexanders' throughout most of its length which has weakened growth in sections, by growing up inside the hedge. Constant cutting and strimming has been necessary but with a long tap root, this plant can only be eradicated by digging it up or treating it with chemical weed-killer; it is a sad fact that 'Alexanders' in this hedge will only be eradicated by spraying. A separate report on this most pernicious of weeds will be posted in due course.

1 comment:

obcollins said...

i live in west cornwall and the plant Alexanders is taking over the hedgerows and gardens there. Even though we clear these up in the garden new ones appear every year, seed obviously blown from hedges ! What can I use to get rid of these weeds. Mrs. J. Elwin